What We-Vibe’s Lawsuit Is All About
While not major news, quite a few places on the Internet have picked up on the fact that We-Vibe was taken to court over various allegations and eventually agreed to pay $3.75 million in order to resolve the class action lawsuit. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m going to do my best to explain exactly what went on and what the problem was.
Firstly, let’s start off with the original court document that was filed in Illinois. It essentially features an individual (known as N.P.) representing a group of individuals that are owners of various We-Vibe devices. We-Vibe is basically a sex toy that allows users to control what happens remotely using a Smart Phone application. It’s also possible for users to pair up their devices to one another so that couples can enjoy themselves together while being in different parts of the world. In the words of We-Vibe itself via advertising text, the product allows you to:
Touch, tease and turn her on from anywhere. Download the free We-Connect app and play together, even when you’re apart.
The bulk of the complaint stems from the fact that We-Vibe devices collect and record ‘high intimate and sensitive data regarding consumers’ personal We-Vibe use’. Basically, the company behind the product had a server that was storing information such as times of usage, length of usage, device temperature, battery life, vibration settings and more. The problem was that this data was all linked to an email address you used to sign up to the app – something that now gives potential hackers access to what you do and how you do it.
Now, while it’s not exactly illegal to collect this data, what is problematic is the fact that We-Vibe didn’t inform users that this was happening. In an Internet age where privacy is becoming a huge concern, it’d be important for users of the device to know exactly how their sensitive sex toy using data is being utilized. There’s no doubt that the recorded information was used locally by the company itself to improve their products, but whether or not it was used to direct advertisements toward certain consumers hasn’t been established quite yet. We-Vibe has assured users that any data they did have stored was not hacked, although of course, there’s no real way to guarantee the information isn’t out there for someone to access in one form or another.
The original class action was drafted in September of 2016 by N.P. and submitted by Attorney Benjamin H. Richman shorter thereafter.
Now, I do want to take some time and look at how this all came about. As far as I can tell, the original source of the information regarding the device sending data back to the company came from a Defcon talk. If you don’t know what Defcon is, it’s basically a collection of computer nerds, security experts and related people getting together to talk about all of the crazy things they’ve done. The conference took place in August of 2016 and featured a talk entitled ‘Breaking the Internet of Vibrating Things’.
These two basically discovered that the We Vibe 4 Plus was sending lots of data back by looking into the product’s code. Skip to 6 minutes and 45 seconds in the video to look at the We Vibe’s segment.
Standard Innovation, the parent company of We Vibe, agreed that the case would be settled so that they wouldn’t have to invest in a lengthy legal battle. A letter was issued to business partners a few days ago where the company stated that “we have agreed to settle this case so that we can focus on the business of designing and creating products”.
Whether or not this is a spy dildo, evil information collecting corporation or something else – all I know is that the world of privacy and erotic devices is about to get interesting.